Honda CB350

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So, it finally happened. I bought my first vehicle, and to my, and everyone else’s surprise, it is not a car. It is a 1971 twin-cylinder Honda CB350. It has a seized engine, uninstalled carburetors, a stuck front brake, worn tires, a questionable rear suspension, and no keys. Its red. And it is beautiful.

To give a bit of back story, my best friend Raji and I are leaving for India this winter, and are going to be traveling from the southern tip of the country all the way to Tibet, which we will free at the end of the trip. We have no idea how long we will be gone, or how we will be getting around for that matter. We assume that we will be doing a bit of everything – walking, biking, taking the train, and, hopefully, riding motorcycles.

So, because I have always been interested in engines, because I am going to India, and because it is just plain amazing, I bought a used bike on craigslist for cheap after some extensive research, picked it up, and am about to commit the next few months of my life to yet another project.

I will keep you up to date with how it is going.

Hawkshead Farm

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So, this may be somewhat of a personal post, but I wanted to provide some kind of description of the past few months to help me get over the guilt I feel for not posting. I grew up on a medium sized farm in Connecticut. It is beautiful in every way, even the unbelievably messy wood shop, the weed-filled pumpkin patch, the leaky roof on the machine shed, and the peeling paint on the barn – it is all beautiful. Really, if I were to be honest, it is less of a farm, and more of a collection of unfinished projects. And through the past five years, I missed home and working quite a bit. So you can imagine what it is like to be home and hard at work with my Dad and brother.

Typically, I spend my time planting, building, fixing, weeding, string trimming, picking, eating, cooking, shoveling, haying, lifting, digging, and a host of other activities that keep me occupied. I have lists that look nothing like my Dad’s lists that we are trying to check off from. We are working on three gardens, with tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes, corn, beans, asparagus, pumpkins, and squash in all various states ranging from struggling to flourishing. We are trying to get some organization and general cleanliness to the whole place – so far we have half of the barn, and most of the house cleaned done, and we are now waiting on a dumpster. We put up seven hay fields and over 1,000 bales last month, which was spectacular. We have all kinds of animals that practically own the place. We have three trucks that don’t work, but we are working on. We have a leaky roof to fix. We have unsplit wood. And the list could go on forever.

So in the next few weeks I hope to post about at least a few of the things that I have learned and discovered in the past few months, and on some of the projects I am working on.

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Absence

Friends! I have to offer a sincere apology for my recent absence. It began with finals picking up, was accentuated by graduation, continued during a road trip, and was finally dealt the killing blow after a few intense months of farming. I have been writing some posts to catch up over the past few days, and during the next few weeks will continue posting on various projects and adventures.

And, I feel that I should give an official abridged update on the past, present, and future adventures I have/will be on. After graduating from Northeastern, I went on a spectacular road trip with three amazing friends across the country and back. Some photography from the trip will be posted soon. Now, I am living at home full-time for the first time in many years. I am working hard on the farm cleaning, planting, harvesting, weeding, organizing, and enjoying my life. Some posts and photographic experimentation from that will be coming soon as well. And finally, sometime around late November, my best friend Raji and I will be departing for a open-ended trip through India.

Needless to say, I am pretty lucky and happy right now.

Stay tuned.

Santa Barbara to Summer Camp 2010

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Photos from a roadtrip of epic proportions! Santa Barbara to Summer Camp music festival and back in 21 days, with 12 states, 10 stops, and three amazing friends.

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EWB and Honduras in Technicolor

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Dominican Republic in Technicolor

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Third World Architecture: Case Study II

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Again in Design Like You Give a Damn I found myself another excellent case study to compliment the Emergency Tents. This one I had seen before both in class and mentioned in other places, but Design Like You Give a Damn gave me a more comprehensive look.

So, in 2002, the Chile-Barrio Program created a new plan to house low-income families who were living illegally in parts of Iquique, Chile. The Chile-Barrio Program is a branch of the Regional Government of Tarapaca that works to upgrade Chile’s illegal housing problems. They hired the interdisciplinary design team Taller de Chile, which is a great firm that is made of architects, engineers, contractors, and politicians from the Universidad Catolica de Chile. The project was named the Quinta Monroy Housing Project, and the team was given a budget of $7,500 per one family house (including the cost of land). The most important goal of Taller de Chile was to build houses that could easily be added to in the future by the residents. The group also focused on the site itself and making sure that the project could be replicated in the future by the government.

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Third World Architecture: Case Study I

In Chad, in response to the Darfur crisis, a new project designed by Ghassem Fardanesh was first tested in the field. Plain white tents, arranged in a long grid, covered the desert where a refugee camp was set up. Although it may not have looked especially revolutionary or innovative, these tents were actually the result of a long process of design and development that was a blessing to the refugees and to UNHCR. Inventively called the “Lightweight Emergency Tent,” these tents were designed to replace the old canvas tents that had been used for over 20 years. Made of synthetic plastic and designed ergonomically to meet the needs of both the refugees and UNHCR, I think these tents provide an excellent first case study to study the economic, social, and material challenges of designing for the developing world and, in particular, for disaster relief.

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Structures 2: Tectonics

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This project was an short investigation inspired by a project done in our Tectonics class to create a structure out of a single sheet of paper that was supported on only three points without cutting or ripping the paper. On this project, I worked with fellow architecture student and friend, Amy Vu. In class, we built an angular triangular structure (image attached) that looked like what would happen if Calatrava designed a Native American Tipi. Jumping off from this point, we were interested in purifying the form and simplifying the structure, since we had to fudge parts to compensate for the rectangular shape of a piece of paper. We were also were careful to keep a practical, real-world mindset through our development. We wanted the result to be something that could be built and assembled simply.

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Third World Architecture: Part II

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After thinking a lot about my last post on third world architecture, I wanted to write up some examples that can argue better than I could:

Darfur is home to over two and a half million homeless people, which is staggering when you think about it. In one refugee camp, I found a group that designed a pretty amazing and creative solution that helped thousands of refugees. The government would not allow any permanent structures to be built in the camp, so the group BOLD (Building Opportunities & Livelihoods in Darfur) found a different solution that could address multiple problems at once. They started a program that employed over 3,000 refugees in one camp (where grass was plentiful) to weave grass mats that were then sold for a small profit to a camp in North Darfur (where grass was not readily available).  These mats were then used with bamboo stakes to construct shelters for the refugees.  This program was made possible by understanding all of the material, economic, and social variables that existed and by designing a solution taking all of these variables into account.

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